The Broken Status-Quo: Securitizing COVID-19
Enden, Jeremy van den
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Since the turn of the century, the notion of security has increasingly been examined while consciously taking into account its subjective nature in contemporary politics. This thesis adopts a similarly inclusive concept of security that allows for integration of additional focal points throughout the analysis: that of public health and inequality. Through detailed analysis of the public statements, press conferences and (emergency) consecutive orders of two regional actors in the New York City regionㅡthe New York State Department of Health and the New York City Office of the Mayorㅡthis research examined how these actors securitized the Coronavirus-disease 2019 pandemic from January 1, 2020 until January 15, 2021 and how this was transformed into specific forms of action and mobilization. Consequently, this thesis defined seven consecutive phases of the securitization trajectory within this period. It concludes that the assessment of risk shifted towards an explicit security discourse from March, 2020 onward, in which the framework surpassed the realm of public health alone. This enabled these political actors to enact impactful social restrictions and halt nearly all public activity in the city and to prompt the city into action, scilicet to practice individual hygiene measures and to get tested. The examination paid specific attention to the extent to which these securitizing actors embedded the notion of inequality into their construction of security and concludes that gradually through the trajectory these actors adopted inequality as a lens through which underlying and pre-existing disparities could be addressed through the expansion of the referent subject, stirring a broad framework to move forward from the crisis as a city.